Undefeated Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner Shanghai Bobby leads a field of ten three-year-old colts in Saturday's Grade 3 Holy Bull at Gulfstream Park in Florida. The Holy Bull is the tenth race on the card with a scheduled post time of 5:05 p.m. ET. HRTV will provide live television coverage, while the Daily Racing Form will provide live video streaming of the entire Gulfstream card.
The Holy Bull Stakes is part of the official Road to the 2013 Kentucky Derby series presented by Churchill Downs. The top four finishers in the race will receive 10, 5, 2 and 1 points towards earning a spot in the starting gate in Louisville on the first Saturday in May.
Let's take a look at the field for the Holy Bull:
1-Shanghai Bobby (4/5): A perfect five-for-five as a juvenile, Shanghai Bobby won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita Park and was subsequently named the Eclipse Award winner as Champion Two-Year-Old Colt of 2012. History is working against Shanghai Bobby's Kentucky Derby aspirations, as only one Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner has ever won the Derby the following spring (Street Sense in 2007).
2-Frac Daddy (8/1): This colt is one of the more accomplished two-turn horses in the field. He broke his maiden at a mile and a sixteenth at Churchill Downs on Nov. 3, followed by a neck defeat to Uncaptured in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club on Nov. 24.
3-Clearly Now (12/1): Surface questions surround first-time dirt runner Clearly Now, a winner of two races over the synthetic surface at Woodbine. His dam, Bend, won three times in her career, all on turf. His half-sister Salvar notched two of her three career victories on the lawn. While the pedigree suggests Clearly Now is geared towards running on grass, trainer Brian Lynch sports solid numbers when moving a horse from synthetics to dirt (33 Starts, 10 Wins, 30% Win%, 55% In-The-Money%).
4-Bern Identity (4/1): Second in the Grade 3 Delta Downs Jackpot in his last start on Nov. 17, Bern Identity is one of the few horses in this field that prefers to run from well off the pace. That might just be the perfect running style for success if Shanghai Bobby, Frac Daddy, Clearly Now and any of the other horses in this field get into a speed duel in the early stages. Keep an eye on the track condition with respect to Bern Identity -- he's run well over an off track in the past and his dam, Maddalena, was 3-for-4 over muddy/sloppy tracks in her career. Bern Identity also has a half-brother, Joburg Star, that won two of five races over off tracks.
5-Sr. Quisqueyano (20/1): He finished second to Itsmyluckyday in the Gulfstream Park Derby in his most recent start, but he was a good six lengths behind the winner at the wire. He'll need to improve on that effort in order to have a legitimate shot to win in this spot.
6-Dewey Square (12/1): It's hard to find anything wrong with the first three races of his career. He won his first two events and then finished a solid third, just behind Frac Daddy, in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs on Nov. 24.
7-Itsmyluckyday (6/1): Opened a lot of eyes with his dominating victory in the Gulfstream Park Derby on New Year's Day, winning by over six lengths on Sr. Quisqueyano. Itsmyluckyday drifted out a bit in the stretch, suggesting he has room to improve on what was the best race of his career.
8-Tulira Castle (30/1): The problem for Tulira Castle (and Fredericksburg and Joshua's Comprise) in the Holy Bull is a race of post position: prior to the start of the current meet, posts eight or higher are 7 for 105 for a paltry 7% winning percentage going back the last two years. All other posts? A solid 75 for 547, good for a 14% clip.
9-Fredericksburg (30/1): A son of the notable sprinter Speightstown, Fredericksburg has shown an ability to get a route of ground early in his career, most likely due to stamina influences on his dam's side. Like the horses to his immediate outside and inside, he'll have to overcome a bad post position.
10-Joshua's Comprise (50/1): This colt won an allowance race at Calder back on Sept. 30, after which he finished 12, 10 ½, 21 ½ and 20 ½ lengths behind the winner in his next four starts. He needs to show major improvement to finish in the top four against this field.
Shanghai Bobby is clearly the most accomplished colt in the field, but his odds are likely to hover between 3/5 and 4/5 all the way up to post time. While he might be the "most likely" winner on Saturday, anything under even money seems a little light given the time off and the quality of the field he's running against.
Itsmyluckyday has proven he can cover a route of ground, and he's entering the Holy Bull off of a strong effort. The pace of the race should allow him to sit just off the leaders through the early stages. A couple of strong morning works over the last three weeks suggests he has maintained his form after his victory on New Year's Day. If he's able to run a race similar to his win in the Gulfstream Park Derby, or even improve just slightly, he could be the one to beat.
Itsmyluckyday is an enticing 6/1 on the morning line but I would expect him to get bet down to the 4/1 or 7/2 range. I'll take a straight Win-Place-Show bet on Itsmyluckyday at 4/1 or better, with an exacta above and below Shanghai Bobby and Frac Daddy.